It was about a three-hour drive to my Dad’s funeral. While I love seeing the countryside out there in the northeastern part of the state — mountains and forests — I was alone and no one could take the pictures. And officiating at the funeral, I also couldn’t take any pictures. However, things went well enough and I managed to say more or less what was in my notes for the eulogy. And I persuaded a couple of folks to add something positive of their own.
Dad had no church out there, and my aunt asked her pastor to come speak a few words. He did the standard Baptist thing, which is fine, because most of those present were also Baptists, if they had any affiliation at all. However, Dad had virtually no friends in that area, just family. We had close to fifty — my siblings, our kids and grandkids, cousins, in-laws, etc. Just about all of us went to the graveside, as well, and we had a pair of very well-practiced US Army Honor Guard troops.
I discovered that, for better or worse, the military honors were quite meaningful to me. Not the business of representing the US government, but the business of ordinary soldiers doing something to honor one of their own. They never knew him nor any of us, but were prepared to carry out a time-consuming military ritual, invest extraordinary care and attention to detail, and disappear without anyone thanking them. I’ve done that job before and I understand perfectly — you don’t want thanks from the family. What you want is the sense of having performed a high moral duty, and you pray someone will do the same for you some day. Forget the government; this is well-earned camaraderie. Frankly, that’s what I miss about military service.
By the way, there was no haggling between the various survivors over the estate. It ain’t much in the first place, but we are more concerned his chosen executrix (his sister-in-law) isn’t worked to death over this. She’s no gold-digger, either, so we discussed without any hint of dissent who took care of what. We aren’t all somehow angels, but this is how people are supposed to act. We never forget that we are family.
Thanks to all of you who prayed for this trip and my services. I bragged about what a wonderful virtual parish family I serve.